RUGBY UNION: Redmen still a fighting chance
RUGBY UNION: It was only a 10-minute period of play, but it proved to be a defining factor in Henwoods Grafton Redmen's 19-9 loss to Hastings Vikings on Saturday in the Mid North Coast Reserve Grade major-semi final.
Grafton went to the sheds with a slim 9-5 lead and looked like causing a huge boilover until a drop in intensity invited the minor premiers back in the contest.
Redmen second-grade coach Guy Robertson could not fault his side's hunger for the majority of the game but admitted they'll need to play for the full 80 minutes if they're to give the title a real shake.
"We have a little bit of work to do if we want to feature in the grand final," Robertson said after the game.
"There was no question about our intensity and hunger throughout the first half, but we took our eye off the ball early in the second half.
"We failed to find another gear when we needed to and they pinned us down in our own half for long periods of play."
Grafton will now need to regroup for next Saturday's preliminary final against either Coffs Snappers or Kempsey Cannonballs in Coffs Harbour.
Snappers ran out 19-10 winners against Grafton last time they met while Kempsey went down to the Redmen in a thriller last week.
Robertson will no doubt look to inform flanker Ed McGrath and centre Robbie Campbell to get them over the line.
"Ed hurt Hastings on the weekend with his hard straight running style and Robbie did the same in the backs," Robertson said.
"Not sure who we will be up against, but either way it will be a tough game.
"One thing for sure is the game will be played in Coffs, which suits us travel wise. We'll be working hard at training this week to ensure we don't slacken off like we did against Hastings."